Travel between South Africa's most cosmopolitan city and unique semi-coastal wilderness of Addo Elephant National Park.
Guests will be met on arrival at Cape Town International Airport for the first leg of the Cape Town to Addo tour. Thereafter the day is spent exploring one of the world's most beautiful cities. Table Mountain, arguably the most famous natural landmark in Africa is first on the agenda. From Table Mountain, one of the most impressive views in the world can be enjoyed. We also visit the world-famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The garden is home to 4 000 of the 18 000 species of flora which are found in South Africa and creates a most remarkable display. At the memorial to Cecil John Rhodes, sweeping views of the entire Cape Flats can be enjoyed and this is where we end an unforgettable day.
The spectacular Chapman's Peak Drive, cut into the 650m high Chapman's Peak leads the tour through the town of Noordhoek to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. A botanical and scenic delight, the reserve is home to several antelope species as well as a great diversity of flowering plants and birds. A highlight is sure to be the walk to the edge of Cape Point, the most southwestern tip of the continent. This Cape, which has played such a central role in the tales and legends of the ocean, was and remains an important landmark.
The tour traces False Bay on the way back to Cape Town and includes a visit to Boulders Beach, an attractive secluded haven which comprises a tumble of huge round rocks on a sandy shore. The boulders are ideal vantage points for observing the colony of mainland-based African penguins from.
Located in one of the most picturesque valleys of the Cape, the town of Franschhoek owes its existence to the first French settlers who worked the Drakenstein Valley. Some time is devoted to exploring the town and its memorial to the French Huguenots, set in a lovely garden, before visiting three of the fine wine estates in the valley, which are renowned internationally for the exceptional quality of wines. All the noble cultivars and classic styles are on display, from superb whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon and Chenin Blanc to the rich reds of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Merlot. During the late afternoon, the tour makes its way back to Cape Town.
The tour traces the coast from Gordon's Bay, traversing the towns of Rooi Els and Betty's Bay on the way to South Africa's Whale Coast. En route several stops are made at vantage points from where the southern right whale can potentially be spotted. These whales frequent the waters of South Africa's coastline during the months between June and November. They travel approximately 2 000km from the Southern Ocean to give birth in these waters. Spotting these graceful mammals regally splashing about is a most rewarding experience. Lunch is enjoyed in Hermanus with its sweeping views of Walker Bay, said to be the best place on the entire coast from which to enjoy whale watching. After some time spent in Hermanus, the tour continues via Bredasdorp to the quaint fishing village of Arniston. The village takes its name from a tragic shipwreck which occurred in these treacherous waters in 1815. The village is located a stone's throw from the southern tip of Africa and the coastline surrounding it. It is noted for its bizarre marine erosions, of which the most famous is Waenhuiskrans. Before retiring to the overnight destination a visit is made to the lighthouse and museum at Cape Agulhas as well as to the southernmost point of the African continent.
After breakfast, the tour travels to the coastal city of Mossel Bay. It is here where the Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Diaz set foot on shore in 1488, and we dedicate some time to visiting the museum which bears his name. The museum stands not far from the Milkwood Tree and fountain which served respectively as a post office and watering hole to seafarers in centuries past. The tour then travels on to Knysna, the jewel of the Garden Route where the late afternoon is spent at leisure.
The Outeniqua Mountains form the barrier which divides the semi-arid interior from the lush coastal plains of the Garden Route. The tour crosses this barrier via the Outeniqua Pass to Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world. The town is located in the great valley known as the Little Karoo, with the Langeberge and Outeniqua ranges forming its boundary to the east and the Swartberg Mountains forming its western boundary. Your first stop is the Cango Caves, which lie in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains. The great cave system is amongst the world’s largest and is blessed with elaborate drip stone formations, the highest of which stands 12.6m tall. The caves extend to about 1600m into the limestone-rich hills and are a truly an impressive sight. Lunch is followed by a short drive to an ostrich farm where the focus is on the farming of the world's largest birds. Great fortunes where built in the heyday of the industry when the feathers where prized fashion accessories. Today the meat, with its low-fat content, is sought after in a world ever more preoccupied with healthy living, and the leather is a prized raw material in the production of fashion accessories. The brave can even endeavor an ostrich ride before we make our way back to the overnight destination.
The scenic splendor of the Garden Route is evident again as the tour makes its way north en route to Natures Valley. It is reached after descending the Grootrivier Pass into the valley below, where the quaint seaside resort of Natures Valley lies nestled on an alluvial plain next to the Grootrivier Lagoon. This river also marks the western boundary of the Tsitsikamma Nature Reserve. The road then bridges the Bloukrans River as it ascends 183m in three kilometers with some of the most dramatic scenery in the Garden Route guiding the way. Storms River mouth set in the Tsitsikamma National Park is reached after a short drive. The main attractions here include a waterfall and spectacular views of the coastline, as well as the rich birdlife of the area. After a visit to Storms River mouth, the tour continues to the overnight destination in Port Elizabeth.
An hour and a half's drive inland from Port Elizabeth brings the tour to Addo National Park, where an extraordinary assembly of tough drought-resistant plants, shrubs and stunted trees combine to produce the famous 'Addo bush'. The original elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only eleven elephants remained in the area. Today, this finely tuned ecosystem is a sanctuary to over 350 elephants, 280 Cape buffalo, black rhino, a variety of antelope species, and the unique flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo. Large parts of the park are set in the foothills of the Zuurberg Mountains. It is home to no less than five of South Africa's seven vegetation zones, which support a multitude of different species of which the Big Five are the most notable. The afternoon is devoted to a first game drive accompanied by your experienced guide.
An early morning and late afternoon game drive in this area of unique ecology are the focus of the day. You may encounter the graceful elephant or the rare black rhino - relatively smaller than the white, but notorious for being temperamental, sometimes seemingly unprovoked. The big cats and a large number of different grassland game species that once again roam free in their ancestral grazing grounds afford a glimpse of Africa in all her glory. The focus is on interpretive game viewing, with the guide enhancing guests' understanding of the animals through their knowledge of the habits and behavior of the different species.
A morning bush walk accompanied by a resident ranger lends a different perspective to the wilderness experience. There is true excitement in being on foot in close proximity to elephants, and the sense of awe you'll experience as the full realization of their size in relation to humans becomes more evident in the absence of a vehicle. After the bush walk, guests will be transferred to Port Elizabeth Airport for a flight to Cape Town, where your Cape Town to Addo tour in South Africa comes to an end.
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